Better than any cliff-hanger serial. More current than any live TV and heralding the most fascinating
cast of characters from front and rear of the telly screen. The nation’s
press has swooped on the dying carcass of the Channels Nine like a seagull on a
piece of fat. No doubt it’s been the most gripping read on the net as well. The
characters are beyond belief, the plot seems to have several protagonists and
nobody is playing by the script. Brilliant daily “live” journalism.

As a proud Nine
pioneer I’m in two minds about the whole thing. There’s a certain satisfaction at seeing
the bean counters and the carpet strolling amateurs get their comeuppance, but
also a great sadness at witnessing this “benchmark” television broadcasting
institution slowly eroding and purposefully being dismantled by those who should
show more respect.

Dignity and class were once part of the Channel Nine concept. So was respect for the
audience. “Give them just a little
bit better than they expect”
was a common mantra. The senior stylist
was Bruce Gyngell and we willingly followed his class act. And yes! Kerry
Packer did maintain this virtue and held it together as a matter of pride and
power. What better use of its heritage? I am totally surprised that young James,
who learnt at the feet of Gyngell and his dad, has been so easily converted to
the whims of these pouncing Park
Street philistine sycophants. Now it’s gone… Not
going, but gone. It will never recover from this planned act of

Fifty years
of distinction, prestige and viewer confidence dismantled in 12 months. I’ve no
doubt the culprits were waiting in the wings during KP’s last days. Of course
audiences dwindle, ratings sometimes wallow and economic and business model
changes must happen, but change with a chainsaw is a deliberate act of
terror. Eroding the creative engine room and industry respect that Nine has
earned over fifty years is a disgrace and illustrates a total lack of
understanding of why Nine had become an institution of excellence. It would be
juvenile to think that this debacle will not have a profound influence upon the
market’s perception of how this executive “non-team” would operate any business
under its control.

All television
industry workers yearned to fine-tune their craft at Nine. Nine has always been
the pinnacle of a career. Working at Nine was like the finishing school of
television broadcasting and production.

Who would want to work
there now? Only a masochist… Shame!

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey